Patricia Bozin could never have expected she would be celebrating a milestone birthday stranded in Canberra by COVID-19 travel restrictions while her husband Shane Peterson was similarly stuck more than 12,000km away in California.
Yet last night that's exactly how it played out. But thanks to some careful planning by Shane, Patricia was still able to celebrate her birthday in style.
From their home in Sacramento, Shane organised a dinner for Patricia and her friend Robina Jaffray at Courgette restaurant in Civic on Thursday night and a delivery of red roses from Embassy Florist. Shane said the staff at Courgette had gone "above and beyond" to make the night special for his wife.
"Even a 'simple' thing like going out to dinner can do so much to lift a person's spirits, and I am grateful that Courgette is opening its doors," he said.
Patricia was thrilled, after initially thinking there would be no celebration.
"He totally surprised me," she said. "I heard that they were lifting some restrictions on restaurants and I had booked another place and then they cancelled and I was really upset."
Patricia, who is Australian, and Shane, who is American, met in California more than a decade ago and married last year in Hawaii. Originally from Sydney, she had been working overseas since 1996. She was in Canberra working as an assistant director on the National Redress Scheme in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. And she was also keen to be in Canberra to connect with some relatives. And so she arrived during the bushfires last summer. Not the best introduction to the national capital.
"I'd never seen anything like it, it was so apocalyptic. And all of a sudden there was COVID-19. It's just been a really unfortunate year. The worst timing ever."
Patricia has booked a flight back to Sacramento for July but it has yet been confirmed by United Airlines.
"I hope United can get me back home and the borders open and everything is okay by July because I really miss home," she said.
And Shane, who is an engineering consultant now working on the California high-speed rail project.
"He's such an amazing person, he's so kind, so generous and just so caring. I couldn't have asked for a better person in my life," she said.